Boeing Co. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. wonâ€™t be certified this year to send astronauts to space and may be delayed into 2019
because of potential safety hazards,
according to US investigators.
Boeing parachute systems havenâ€™t been adequately evaluated and SpaceX engine turbines have cracked during testing, the Government Accountability Office said in a report Thursday that outlined risks to the company programs. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration agreed to renegotiate its contracts with Boeing and SpaceX to delay certification reviews that had been scheduled for this year, the GAO said.
The lagging certification process is significant because the U.S.â€™s contract with Russia for transportation to the International Space Station expires in 2019. Any lapse between when the contract with Russia ends and Boeing or Elon Muskâ€™s SpaceX being ready would hamper returns on the billions of dollars NASA has invested in the station, the GAO said.
â€œGiven the delays in the Commercial Crew Program, GAO recommends that NASA develop and report to Congress on its contingency plans for maintaining a U.S. presence on the ISS beyond 2018,â€ the agency wrote in its report.
Since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, American astronauts have relied on Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, to ferry them to the station. NASA selected both Boeing and SpaceX in 2014
to develop commercial crew